News / Tips

1. Come with ideas

Pinterest board with building a house ideas.
As Margaret Heidenry, from, explains, "Homebuilders follow your lead -- not the other way around." So unless you give them some direction, you'll end up with the same generic house that everybody else has. Yet "the whole joy of building new is that you can actually customize it," says Tim Costello, CEO of Builder Homesite. "So come with inspiration."
Create a Pinterest board, a scrapbook from home magazines or an idea folder filled with what you like. If you're building commercial, check out your competition’s space and see what others are doing in your industry. What do you like about the layout, how it's used and how you can one-up it?

2. Choose a floor plan

Floor plan of a house.
Now that you have an idea of what you want, it's time to make your first big decision: the floor plan. Chinburg Properties, a large builder on the upper East Coast, calls this "the baseline for your project," since it will determine the size, style, quality and features of your new building. 
Whether the floor plan came from the builder's catalog, a book or the internet, it needs to be okayed or adjusted by a local general contractor or architect before work can begin.

3.  Estimate the cost per square foot

Math to determine how much a house costs per squre foot.
To get this estimate, take the total cost (which you'll get from the builder) and divide it by the number of square feet in the building.
Why am I doing this? I don't even have a builder yet.
You can do the same for similar, newly constructed homes and commercial buildings in your area. Take the price of the building, subtract the price of the land it stands on, and divide the result by the number of square feet you want to have.
Doing this with a few different examples will give you the going rate for this kind of construction. Comparing these numbers will help you determine whether or not your builder's estimate is reasonable.

4. Balance additions with cuts

Heart over head, what one wins?
Jared Loveless, President of New York builder Vector East, observes that "people plan with a budget in mind. But they build with their heart." Our rational brains know that shiny things are expensive, but that doesn't keep the shiny things from being irresistible.
Margaret advises buyers to "balance out any cost-adding changes with some budget-cutting elsewhere" to keep your costs in check. Want expensive tile floors in the kitchen and master bath? Go with cheaper appliances and sinks.

5. Leave room in the budget for additional construction costs

Apart from the time and materials to build the building itself, Chinburg Properties names three more things you may need to pay for:
  • Altering the land before construction can start. "If you have to clear a lot of trees, haul in dirt, grade or remove large rocks, expenses will increase."
  • Fees for any special permits the builder will have to get.
  • Labor costs, which can fluctuate due to supply and demand. "During times of low unemployment and economic growth, costs are typically higher" since the builder will have to spend more on salaries for subcontractors and other tradespeople.
What will this cost you? Look up rates for tree/rock removal companies and local independent subcontractors, and fees for applicable permits. This should give you a rough idea of how much to budget for such expenses. Check with the builder and/or real estate agent for a clearer picture of what your project will require.

6. Budget for the unexpected

image says "hope for the best, plan for the worst."
Know that delays are part of the construction process and can carry additional costs. Workers need to be paid for those extra days. Damaged or defective materials need to be replaced. If tools are stolen, they need to be replaced, too. Chinburg Properties advises buyers to "assume an additional 10%" to cover these costs.

7. Hire a real estate agent

Real estate agent busy working.
Now that you know what you want to build and have a rough budget, you can start gathering your team. A real estate agent is the first member you should consider recruiting.
Really? Do I need one? I mean, the sales rep was super nice and helpful.
Don't be fooled. As Ali Johnson, a Florida real estate agent, explains, "That person [the sales rep] works for the seller. They represent the developer's interests," not yours. A real estate agent will represent your interests.
Blake Miller, from Trulia, adds that the builder pays the agent's commission, so "it costs you nothing to have someone represent you during the new-construction process." You get the agent's expertise and back-up for free. Talk about a sweet deal.

8.  Find the right builder

Contractor builds a house.
Properties recommends choosing a builder who routinely builds the type of home or commercial building you want. Patty Brockman, an Oregon real estate agent, says that the builder should be insured and bonded, and "have a good standing with your state's Construction Contractor's Board." 
Insurance policies you'll want to look for are:
  •  Workers' Compensation -- helps employees when they are injured on the job.
  •  General Liability -- protects the company from getting sued into bankruptcy (more or less).
Patty also recommends asking questions "about whether they use independent subcontractors, and verify their licenses and bonds as well." Doing this background check on the company will ensure that you are hiring a crew that is experienced and has a good reputation.

9. Understand the contract you are signing

You're going to be working with this builder for months. Establish expectations from both sides, which is why Patty says to "always list in detail anything that you expect" the builder to do, even if the contract doesn't specify it.
Chinburg Properties recommends creating "as detailed a construction contract as possible." Not only does it clarify what everyone expects of each other, it gives an accurate estimated cost and a clear breakdown of where your money is going. 
Some of the components they recommend including are:
  •  Definitions of heated and unheated spaces.
  •  How to handle a garage or basement. Are they included? Should they be finished?
  •  Utility connections.
  •  Liability insurance, such as Builders Risk, that protects the half-built structure from fires, storms, vandalism, etc.
Patty warns that, by default, "builders' contracts pretty much only protect the building company, not the buyer." A real estate agent can add addendums to the contract that protect you as well.

10. Plan for delays

House under large construction project.
Delays cost more than money. They cost time. Margaret notes that many buyers "take a contractor's original completion date as a fait accompli and end up with no place to live" when the house isn't finished by that original date. This is why you need to create a back-up plan as soon as construction starts.
If delays are less than a couple of weeks, crashing with family or friends is a great option. If delays are on the order of months, research apartments and hotels in the area. You'll also need a place for your stuff, so check out storage facilities nearby. Ask your moving company if they offer storage or can recommend someone.
I'm not building a house. I'm building offices/a storefront for my business.
If you're in the storefront camp, then at least wait to order promotional material for your grand opening. If it's office space, arrange for you and your employees to work remotely while you're in transition. Many cities now offer co-working spaces for rent. See if there are any in your area and if they'd work as a temporary base for your team.

10.5 Make sure there’s builders’ risk insurance

Builders’ risk insurance, a.k.a., course of construction insurance, which is usually purchased by the builder or general contractor, protects against mistakes and mishaps that can damage a structure, equipment and materials waiting to be installed.
It’s important to make sure they have adequate coverage in place to recover the current value of your project, including labor costs, if a loss occurs due to a set number of causes. This will also help to keep construction on time and within budget.

Good luck!

Construction isn’t a business for the faint of heart. Even for the buyer, it’s full of delays, sudden changes in plan, and generalized chaos. But choosing the right team of experts, and having a clear vision and plenty of money in your budget, will help make the process less scary. No guarantees about less tricky or shorter, though.

Your professional building contractor

5 Easy Home Improvement Projects & Upgrades for the Winter

If you’re like most people, you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors lately. Unfortunately, there are several more months of winter to get through before we start seeing signs of spring.
Here are some easy winter projects you might want to tackle before spring hits.
Ref: Money Crashers BY Heather Levin
1. Repaint
You’ve been staring at your neutral colored walls every day for months. Want to brighten your mood? Try repainting! Go with a bright, cheery color to liven things up.
I always repaint in the winter because that’s when I need the most visual stimulation. A new coat of paint can dramatically lift your mood and the mood of the entire room.
Make sure you crack open the windows to let in fresh air while you’re painting. Or, consider going with an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint so you don’t have to worry about breathing in toxic fumes.
2. Work on Your Floors
Is your carpet threadbare? Are your hardwood floors freezing your feet?
Putting in carpet is a great winter project because it can increase the comfort of your home dramatically.
Whether you do it yourself or have it installed, remember: the off-gassing from new carpet is tremendous. Make sure you open windows to allow those toxic fumes to escape. You can also ask your carpet retailer to air out the carpet several days before they install it in your home.
If you don’t like carpeting, there are plenty of other home flooring ideas such as tile and laminate that you could also consider.
3. Declutter
When Spring gets here, you’re not going to want to spend your time sifting through those piles of junk in your basement. You’ll want to be outside, enjoying the fresh air.
Winter is a great time to work on getting organized (which is why January is “Get Organized Month”). So, devote time every week to decluttering in general and organizing what you decide to keep.
Tip: Don’t try to tackle the entire house at once. Do this and you’ll find yourself with a broken spirit, huddled on the couch looking for the remote. Start small, and go slow. Focus on one shelf, or one corner, and work until you’ve got that space looking exactly how you want. This way you’ll be able to see the progress you’re making.
4. Look at Your Bathroom
Is your grout gunky with unsightly mildew? Is your sink hopelessly outdated? Are you over the pale green paint you put on the walls three years ago?
Bathrooms make great winter projects because once they’re done, you can appreciate your handiwork every single day. And, there are plenty of ways to frugally remodel your bathroom.
Updates like replacing a faucet, re-grouting tile, or repainting are relatively easy for the do-it-yourselfer. But if you get more ambitious (like, you want to replace the tile floor or buy a new toilet) you might want to call in professional help. Your sanity will thank you.
5. Add Insulation
Okay, so adding insulation doesn’t exactly make your heart pound with excitement. But it will lower your utility bills, and help make your home more comfortable and eco-friendly.
Crawl up into your attic. If you can see the floor joists, then you need more insulation. Since heat rises, you could save quite a bit by adding another layer of insulation up there.
You can also add insulation in your basement and in crawlspaces to prevent heat loss there as well.
Final Word
It’s easy to get cabin fever this time of year. We’re all going through it. But working on home projects is a great way to keep yourself active, add value to your home, and beautify or improve your living space. It’s a win-win!
011 849 1592 – 011 849 4659

5 Tips for choosing the best construction contractor

Doesn’t matter if it’s a pre-fabricated storage building or a custom commercial complex, it’s important that you hire a top construction contractor who knows their stuff.
You don’t want just any contractor; you want a top construction contractor with an impeccable reputation. The reality is there are probably more than enough contractors in your area to choose from. Any number of them can possibly do the job, but you don’t want a maybe, and you don’t want to make a bad decision.
Choosing the right contractor not only means your finished building will be everything you want it to be; it also means the process itself will go smoothly and in a timely fashion. It’s simply not worth it to hire a contractor who will not deliver what you want with a minimum of hassle. You want someone with whom you can really work and communicate.
·         Ask people in the know
Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to find quality services, and when it comes to contractors, the same holds true. Ask people who have experience working with contractors, who have used contractors and who work alongside them. For example: building inspectors.
·         Don’t rush the process
Being in a hurry can cost you money and create headaches. Start looking for a top contractor early on, so you can make an informed decision based on facts.
·         Talk to several contractors
Start making phone calls. Ask them questions and get a feel for the way they work. Do they seem accessible, available, and willing to answer your questions? Or do they simply pressure you into choosing them, and tell you all about how wonderful they are.
·         Ask for references
This is standard, and shouldn’t be skipped or glossed over. A top construction contractor should be able to provide a solid list of references, and yes, you should follow up with them.
·         Ask the right questions
It’s one thing to be a good contractor; it’s another to be the right contractor. Find out more about how they work, how many projects they take on at once, what their primary area of expertise is, and whether they work with subcontractors, and if so, how long they have worked with them.
The process of finding a contractor takes a little time and some research, but you’ll be glad you went the extra mile. The above list will help you get started finding the contractor that’s a good fit for your project.
  • Ref : Dennis Ayemba (Construction Review)

Just over a year ago, Sherwyn Esbend’s office in North Coast Road was an empty space. Today, it has been subdivided into separate offices and a smart reception area and he has just taken delivery of two brand new bakkies.

                       Sherwyn Esbend, the owner of Sbenz Construction.

Over the past two years, he has built a vibrant construction business that repairs properties on behalf of insurance companies.
But it has been a challenging journey and one where his business philosophy of delivering quality results and ensuring top notch service have stood him in good stead.   
“I tell people who want to go into business that the more they grow, the bigger the challenges they will face and the larger the potential problems will be. In the school of life, before you go to the next grade, you have to pass the test. So, don’t keep going around the same mountain like the Israelites. Keep your eye on that next level.”
Esbend was born and grew up in Pietermaritzburg into a family of entrepreneurs. Both his grandfather and his father, who passed away when he was just 12, were in the construction industry and he admits that following them seemed the natural thing to do.
After completing his matric, however, he headed to the United States for a year and a half where he helped his sister who ran a laundromat and a construction business.  
Back in South Africa, he joined Waltons Stationery and then moved to the Road Traffic Inspectorate. Five years later, when his second son was born, he decided that the dangers and shift work weren’t worth it and moved to eThekwini Municipality where he worked in the signage and advertising department.   
On the side, he was doing a few small construction jobs.
“I wasn’t satisfied. I knew I wanted to go into business and, specifically, into construction. I’d been trying to do some small jobs but things didn’t always work out. I bumped my head and lost a lot of money but I persevered,” he recalls.
Three to four years ago, Esbend remembers being so broke that he couldn’t scrape together enough money to buy a loaf of bread. His wife Karen, who he says has been by his side throughout, dipped into her salary to help pay workers. Without a car, he relied on public transport and hired a bakkie to do jobs.  
Having his wife by his side has been one of his biggest assets, though.
“If we face a hurdle, we only give ourselves one day to mope. After that, we look for solutions and pick ourselves up,” he says.
He resigned in November 2016, using his pension payout to set up Sbenz Construction. Now that ‘everything was on the line’, he no longer had the option of failing.
Because he believes that a good business needs to have a professional image, he invested in branding his company and building a professional image to give his business credibility. Quotes and invoices were delivered on smart letterheads. He registered a domain name rather than resort to a gmail address.
While subcontracting for one particular construction company, Esbend realised that the future of his company lay in the insurance sector. Repairs in response to insurance claims provided a significant and steady volume of work with reliable payments.  
But being accepted onto the service provider panels of large insurance companies and financial institutions proved difficult. Companies were looking for a track record and references from others in the sector.
He says the turning point came when he joined the Sekela Development Programme (Sekela), which develops and supports small enterprises through workshops and mentorship.
This, in turn, resulted in Sbenz Construction being accepted on to the SA Home Loans (SAHL) panel of contractors who are called in to effect repairs in response to insurance claims.
“SAHL opened the door for me. Without being included on the SAHL panel, I would not have been able to get on to other panels. They have given us references. Now we are doing work for other major insurance brands and big banks and can grow our business,” he says.
Another game changer was the massive flash flood that hit Durban in October last year. As insurance companies scrambled to do the repairs, more contractors were needed and companies waiting in the wings were called in to assist with the excessive backlog of repairs that needed to be done.
“Through that storm, we made it on to one of our biggest clients panels, we had been requesting for some time but had been rejected,” he recalls.
Sbenz Construction completed about 200 jobs and has only just finished all their storm related work. Money earned was ploughed back into the business.
This enabled Esbend to move to his much larger current office and employ another 20 people. With more big clients in the pipeline, he expects to grow his staff even more.   
His association with SAHL also influenced his decision to study further. Following a Sekela advisory board session with SAHL which covered self-development, he registered with MANCOSA for a Bachelor of Business Administration. He has on-the-ground experience of much of the study material but believes this qualification will give him a far broader overview of business and increase his credibility with clients.
He is also focusing on improving his company’s Construction Industry Development Board (cidb) grading which will open doors to other opportunities in the far broader construction business.  “When we joined Sekela, we were on cidb Grade 1, now we are in the process of applying for Grade 5. This is not something I even dreamed of. I thought if I could get to Grade 3, I would be fine,” he says.
At present, 95% of his work is for the insurance industry and this remains his primary focus.  
Esbend’s long term plans include pitching for work from the petroleum industry and, in the medium term, he plans to partner with larger construction companies on major contracts as part of their Enterprise Development Programmes.

Motheo Construction awarded multi-million-rand DBSA contract

The Motheo Construction Group has been awarded a R145m contract by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for bulk services at the Tembisa Extension 25 mega-project for the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.
Archie Rutherford, CEO, Motheo Construction Group’s Civils Division
Archie Rutherford, CEO, Motheo Construction Group’s Civils Division
The project has been allocated R160m in the 2018/19 period, and R524m over the next three years, as noted in the Ekurhuleni 2017/18 Budget Highlights. Established in 1957, Tembisa is a major informal settlement to the north of Kempton Park on the East Rand in Gauteng.

Junithan Moodley, operations director of the Motheo Construction Group’s civils division, explains that the next step is to appoint sub-contractors in terms of relevant small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), as well to provide the DBSA with a detailed quality plan for the works, including the construction methodology to be adopted.

“Our detailed programme for the scope of work will emphasise the critical path and completion date, which is an estimated 12 months for the entire package,” Moodley outlines. Site handover and mobilisation are currently underway.
- Biz Community 

Simple Home Maintenance Tips

1. Toilets

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings. To find out whether your toilet tank is leaking, add some red food coloring to the water in the tank. Come back in about an hour and see if the water in the bowl is pink. If it is, you have a leak.
If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. To change your toilet’s flapper, first shut off the water supply to your toilet. To do this, simply turn the water valve located directly behind the toilet. Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet in order to empty the tank. Use a towel or sponge to mop out any excess water left in the tank. Remove the flush chain from the lever, and then slide the old flapper up off the overflow tube. Slide the new flapper in place over the overflow tube, reconnect the chain, and turn the water supply back on.

2. Faucets

The main cause of leaky faucets is worn out washers. The washers inside of the faucet handles are rubber and tend to wear out quickly. Replace them by turning off the main water supply, unscrewing the leaky handle that controls the flow of water to the spout, removing the old washer, and dropping in the new one.

3. Washing Machine & Dryer

It is important to regularly inspect your washing machine water supply hoses for leaks. One of the top reasons for insurance claims is for water damage caused by leaky washing machine supply lines. Inspect washing machine water supply lines at least annually and replace them every three years if they are plastic. If you notice that the metal ends of your water supply lines are discolored or rusty, replace them immediately.
Faulty washing machine drain hoses are as important as water supply lines when it comes to keeping water off of your floor and in your drain where it belongs. As with supply lines, regularly inspect the ends of your washing machine drain lines for discoloration or rust, and replace them immediately if you find evidence of leaking.
Additionally, check the snugness of the drain lines by using a crescent wrench or a pair of pliers. You should not be able to tighten the line any further if the line is properly tightened. Plastic lines should be replaced every three years.
When it comes to your dryer, it is important to make sure that you regularly clean your lint screen in order to prevent fires. Not only will a clean lint screen prevent fires, but it will also increase the life of the heating element. Physically remove the lint from the screen between each load of laundry. Also, be sure to remove fabric softener residue by washing the screen with warm water and dish detergent once per week.

4. Water Heater

There is nothing more frustrating than turning on the hot water in your shower and instead receiving cold water. Water heaters, like other appliances, need maintenance to increase longevity and reduce the possibility of damage.
Water has sediment suspended in it, and as the water sits in your water heater, these particles will often settle to the bottom of the tank, causing damage to the floor of your water heater. At least once per year, drain the water from your water heater and clean the inside surface of its floor.
To drain your water heater, first turn off the water supply and power to the water heater. For electric water heaters, turning off the power means that you simply flip the circuit breaker to the “off” position. For gas water heaters, turn the thermostat setting to the pilot position.
Next, connect a water hose to the drain fitting at the bottom of the tank and put the other end in a place, such as your driveway, where the draining hot water won’t cause any damage. A typical garden hose is a direct fit to the drain fitting. Turn on all the hot water faucets in your home and then open the drain valve on the water heater. Turn the water supply back on with the drain valve still open to remove any built up sediment in the bottom of the tank. Then close the drain valve, refill the tank, and turn the power back on.

5. Plumbing

In order to keep water flowing freely through your pipes, keep the following things in mind:
  • Accumulating fats and oils are the main cause for clogs, so never pour fats or other oils down your drains. This includes oils that are not solid at room temperature. If you accidentally spill oils or fats down the drain, run hot water down your drain along with a healthy serving of dishwashing liquid. The soap will emulsify the fat or oil and move it on down the pipe, preventing a clog.
  • Get a hair strainer for the bathtub drain. If fats and oils are the main source of clogs in the kitchen, hair is the primary culprit in the bathroom. If you have a strainer, make sure that you remove any accumulated hair from it following each shower. This will reduce the amount of hair that finds its way through the strainer and into your plumbing.
  • Skip the Drano. Though the acids it contains can help unclog a drain, they also cause significant damage to your plumbing, including premature leaking. This can lead to costly repairs later on. If your bathtub or toilet is completely clogged, use a small drain snake – which you can purchase at any hardware outlet – to pull the offending clog to the surface. If your kitchen sink is clogged, try plunging it before trying to snake the drain. If you cannot remove the clog using a drain snake, call a professional.

6. Air Conditioning

Air conditioners are among the most overlooked appliances when it comes to performing regular home maintenance. However, they can be one of the most costly appliances to repair.
Regularly inspect the condensation hose to make sure that water can flow freely from the line. If there is standing water where your condensation line drains, create a drainage path using a small garden trowel and line the path with gravel to keep mold and algae from forming, which can be a serious health hazard when the spores are drawn into the appliance and blown into your home.
Additionally, keep the screen around your air conditioner free from debris to keep air flowing easily. This will prevent your air conditioner from using more power than necessary to keep your house cool and keep the internal parts from wearing out too quickly.

7. Humidifiers

Some climate control systems have in-duct humidifiers that help keep air moist and healthy during the winter when artificial heat systems are in use. But when these systems aren’t working properly, they become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can cause serious air quality issues.
At the end of each winter season, it is important to drain the unit and close the water valve to keep water from stagnating in the system. Also, cleaning the reservoir with a mixture of water and white vinegar helps to keep mineral deposits to a minimum.

8. Air Filters

Change the air filter in your central heat and air unit often, especially during peak usage months. Thirty days is the absolute longest you should ever leave an air filter in place; two weeks is maximum for high-usage months.
Using cheap fiberglass filters is actually preferred as opposed to more expensive HEPA filters for two reasons: First, replacing the more expensive filters often isn’t cost-effective. Second, the fiberglass filters actually allow for more air to flow into your climate-controlled unit, reducing the amount of energy needed to effectively heat or cool your home.

9. Paint

You can easily give your house a facelift by repainting the interior. However, repainting the entire interior of your house can be costly and difficult to accomplish. You can save both time and money by strategically touching up your paint job every so often. The first thing you need is a spot-on color match. The only way to get this is to save paint from your current paint job for future touch-ups. If you have leftover paint, simply roll the paint over the dirty spots on your walls. When the paint dries, it will dry perfectly, leaving you with a wall that looks as though you just painted it.
If you don’t have any leftover paint, you can still touch up your walls, though your efforts will be more labor intensive than spot painting. Take a sample of your color to your local hardware outlet and have your paint tinted to match. When you are ready to touch up your walls, paint the dirty wall from corner to corner, being careful to keep the new paint off any surface you aren’t looking to touch up. If there is a shade difference, you won’t notice it, even if the wall you are painting butts up against another wall.
If you are trying to cover up nicotine-stained walls, you will need to apply a stain blocker to the walls before applying paint. Nicotine will prevent your paint from adhering properly to the wall surface and will cause bubbles. Additionally, if stale smoke or other odor is an issue, add a few drops of vanilla to your paint. This will help combat odors that have seeped into your drywall.

10. Refrigerators

The main component of your refrigerator that should get your attention is the door seals. Keeping your door seals tight will reduce the amount of energy it takes to keep your food cool or frozen, but will also keep your refrigerator working efficiently, preventing premature wear on internal parts.
To test the door seals, close the door on a dollar bill and attempt to pull it out with the door closed. If you cannot easily pull the dollar bill out from the door, your seals are in good shape. However, if the bill slides out without much resistance, it’s time to replace the seals. You can purchase new seals from any home repair outlet store.
Also, if you have a refrigerator that has coils along the back, periodically vacuum these coils to remove dirt and dust build up. These coils contain the coolant the refrigerator uses to keep the internal temperature cold. If they become dirty, they won’t work efficiently and your refrigerator may stop cooling altogether.
As a general tip, keeping your refrigerator full uses less energy than trying to cool when it’s empty. Therefore, keep as many items in your refrigerator as possible to help reduce energy costs.

11. Drafty Windows

Drafty windows are a major culprit of high energy bills in the summer and winter months. Periodically check the condition of the caulk line that holds your windows in place. If the caulk appears to be dry, cracked, or otherwise weathered, remove the old caulk with a box cutter or other sharp knife and run a new bead of caulk along the seam.
For added utility bill savings, you can further insulate your window by applying an insulating window film over the glass. These methods cost much less than the price of replacing your windows and implementing green energy technologies in your home.

12. Gutters

While gutters may go practically unnoticed when you look at your house, they are the main line of defense between your foundation and siding and the elements. Gutters are designed to capture water and debris runoff from your roof and divert it away from your foundation, and one of the main causes of water accumulation in basements is a lack of gutter maintenance and proper water diversion.
Clean your gutters at least once per year by physically removing debris from the channels and rinsing them thoroughly by using a garden hose. Avoid installing gutter guards – not only do these not adequately prevent debris from entering your gutters, they also make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to properly clean your gutter system.
Also, be sure to regularly check that your gutters are properly affixed to your fascia boards, and replace any sections that appear to be damaged or leaking.

13. Roof

Periodically check your roof for damage. Damaged, discolored, or gravel-less shingles should be quickly replaced to prevent the need to replace your roof, water-damaged trusses, or drywall when you finally discover a leak. During the inspection of your roof, pay special attention to shingles that surround skylights, vents, and chimneys, as these areas are the most leak-prone.

Final Word

Keeping your home properly maintained will not only save you money by increasing the longevity of your appliances and existing structures, but it will also help you become more energy-efficient and save money on your utility bills. These tips merely scratch the surface of the things you can do around your home to keep everything running in tiptop shape.

Five Indoor Plumbing Maintenance Tips

    plumbing repair and replacement asheville nc
Though the calendar indicates it is still winter, spring is in the air and blooming in the trees. In the midst of spring cleaning and garage sales, utilize the new season to perform routine and proper maintenance on your home's plumbing systems.
In this article, we will walk you through plumbing maintenance steps that will help you improve your home's energy efficiency and identify minor issues before they require major repairs.

1) Check Your Home's Water Lines For Leaks

Leaking pipes waste water and cause water damage. It is important to identify leaks early, before mold and mildew develops. Common leaking water lines can be found in a number of areas in your home, including:
  • Underneath kitchen and bathroom sinks
  • Cold and hot water heater supply lines
  • Kitchen appliances: washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, etc.
  • In your basement or crawlspace
If you discover leaking pipes, contact a professional plumber to assess and repair the issue as soon as possible.
energy efficient plubming tips

2) Perform Routine Maintenance on Water Heater

We detailed the steps to performing water heater maintenance in our previous article. You can read that article here. In summary, water heater maintenance includes:
  • Flushing the water heater's storage tank
  • Checking the unit's sacrificial anode rod
  • Setting the thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Maintaining at least two feet of clearance around the system

3) Examine and Repair Toilets

Running toilets are a nuisance, but did you know it can cost a homeowner as much as $1,000 in water usage over the course of a year. If your toilet is running, or leaking around the base, it is important to contact a plumber as soon as possible.
4) Clean and Repair Garbage Disposal

Over time, garbage disposals can begin to emit an unpleasant odor. The process for cleaning your garbage disposal is simple: Run water through it for thirty seconds, pour about half of a cup of baking soda into it, add one cup of vinegar and allow it to soak for thirty seconds, and after ten minutes, carefully pour a pot of boiling water into the drain.
If you are uncomfortable cleaning your disposal, or it requires more significant repairs, contact a professional plumber.

5) Check Your Basement or Crawlspace for Moisture

Moisture from humidity, condensation, or leaking pipes can lead to the development of mold. Once it forms, mold can spread quickly through walls and flooring, and be difficult and costly to remove. Correcting the source of the moisture is key to preventing or removing mold.
As you perform plumbing maintenance, you may discover more significant plumbing repair needs. 
By - Barlow Plumbing 
We are here to help. Contact Coral Palm Development for repair and installation in Gauteng and surrounding areas.

Home Repair Service

Keeping your home in tip-top shape requires many home repairs. When you don't have the time or skills to tackle these projects, a trustworthy home repair or handyman service can help.
By Kathy Barnes

A home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make. Protect your investment by taking care of repairs quickly and properly. When you have a routine maintenance problem that you don't have the time or skills to tackle, a home repair or handyman service can help. These services are generally less expensive and faster than general contractors, who often focus on top-dollar gigs like home building and remodeling.
It can be scary to invite a person or crew into your home to do work, especially if you won't always be around to keep a watchful eye. It's important to find a home repair service you can trust to provide prompt and quality work. Whether your project is as small as painting one room or as big as rewiring your whole home, follow these steps before hiring anyone.

Talk to Friends and Neighbours
First, ask neighbours and friends for recommendations, preferably for someone with whom they have a positive, on-going relationship. If that doesn't net results, check peer-review sites, such as Yelp or Angie's List, or do an online search for "home repair" or "handyman services." Make a list of at least three companies, and call the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against any of them.

Ask for References
Next, ask the candidates for references. Ask these customers if they felt the service provider was prompt, courteous, professional, affordable, fair, and trustworthy. Ask to see photos so you can judge the quality of the work. It's best to interview customers who hired the contractor for a project similar to the work you need.

Get Written Estimates
Finally, get written estimates (these should be free) from a few companies before choosing one. Be sure the companies are bidding the same specs for the project so you can compare apples to apples. While reasonable pricing is important, going with the lowest price isn't always the best bet. A poor repair job will cost twice as much when you must pay to fix mistakes. When working with a new-to-you repairperson, particularly someone who doesn't come with recommendations from people you know well, you might want to give him or her a test run on a small project.

Outline Your Agreement
Hire only a repair service or handyman who is insured, bonded, and licensed or knowledgeable in the type of repairs you need. Before they begin even a small job, get a written contract that outlines the terms of your agreement, including timeline, fees, and warranties. Without this step, you'll have a much harder time recovering your expenses if the handyman doesn't deliver as promised.

By - Kathy Barnes 

5 Easy DIY Home Maintenance Tips for Your Home

Sometimes, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives and forget to take care of ourselves or the places that we call home. Simple tasks get pushed to the back burner because we are too busy with our day-to-day activities. The start of a brand new year is the ideal time to freshen things up a bit. One of the easiest ways to do this is to complete small maintenance tasks around your home. Below, we’ve outlined a few tips on simple home maintenance tasks to refresh your home in the New Year.
  1. Change air filters
One of the easiest ways to make your home feel cleaner and fresher in 2017 is to make sure you are changing the air filters throughout the year. This is a very simple task, but it is often forgotten about. Simply unscrew the metal grate where your air filters are located, remove the dirty filter, and replace it with a clean new filter.
air filters
  1. Replace smoke detector batteries and carbon monoxide detector batteries
For your safety, it’s important to make sure that all alarm systems are functioning correctly in your home. Locate all of the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your house, open the battery compartment, and replace with new batteries. Hopefully, you will not be in a situation where you need these alarms but it is better to err on the side of caution.
smoke detector battery
  1. Clean your garbage disposal
The garbage disposal in your sink works hard to crush up and wash away the many different food items that you put down the drain. Doing a deep clean of the disposal once a year can help eliminate odors and keep your system running smoothly. Simply pour one cup of ice cubes and one cup of salt down the drain, run the water, and turn on the disposal.
garbage disposal
  1. Weatherproof your windows
Keep your windows in tip-top shape all season long by weatherproofing them and giving them a good deep clean. You may not even realize that your view to the world outside is being filtered by a layer of built-up grime on your windows. First, completely remove the window screens and use a cleaning product like Windex to wipe down both the inside and outside of the glass as well as all windowsills. Your windows will be sparkling and more sunshine will be able to make its way inside your home this spring.
weather proof windows
  1. Clear dead plants and shrubs from around your home’s foundation to avoid damage to the structure
Adding greenery to your front lawn may improve the appearance of your home, but if you don’t properly maintain the shrubs and plants then you risk harming the structure of the house. Each season, take time to clear away any plants that didn’t last through the winter and trim back any living plants so that they do not cause damage.
clear dead plants
By completing these simple household maintenance tasks, you’ll feel accomplished and refreshed for Spring. It feels fantastic to embrace warmer weather on the right foot and hopefully, completing these tasks will help you keep your home healthy throughout the year ahead.
- Invitationhomes

7 Tips for Building Your First Home

by Lauren Busser The House Designers’ Editorial Director
Some home building goofs, like spilled paint or a hole in the drywall are easy to fix as things move along. But you've got to be careful to avoid major, costly errors when building your first home. No one wants to spend their hard-earned cash, time and energy building a home only to later discover that there's been a major oversight which needs correcting. Here are a few things to think about to help you avoid builder's remorse.
It’s all in the Planning
A house is an investment that is meant to last, theoretically forever. So it's wise to plan well into the future when you build your first home. Is your family growing? Do you want a place to entertain? Is it in a location where you'd consider spending the rest of your life? Your answers to these questions will determine what kind of home you are looking for.
Clairmont House Plan
The Clairmont house planworks with the landscape outside and has excellent planning inside. With an open floor plan and a separate Great Room this house also allows for future expansion on the lower level.
Work with the Landscape
These days, owners of smaller homes are dedicating less time and resources to initially developing and maintaining their landscapes. But a house that simply sits between block walls or fences obviously isn't going to be very appealing in the long term. So when you’re planning your build, leave ample space around the house for future gardens or outdoor living spaces.
Safety First
It’s extremely important to feel safe and secure in your home. Planning for things like fire exits, exterior lighting and a security system go a long way in improving the safety of your new home.
Morrison House Plan
The Morrison house plan is a small cottage with a design allowing it be expanded into a two-story home relatively simply. Not only does it have plenty of amenities but it is also part of our energy efficient house plans collection.
Green is Key
A big trend in today’s market is the green home. There are a lot of green, water-saving technologies in a range of prices. Take a look at the ENERGY STAR® website to see a wide variety of energy-saving building products and appliances that you can use in your home.
Keep it Affordable
Size is an important consideration when building your first home. If you are building a larger home you can obviously expect to pay more in mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance and utilities but you wouldn't want to build so small that it leaves you without options for redesign or expansion later. Really think about the spaces you'll need and what you can afford when planning your house and you won’t have regrets later on.
When you are planning to build your first home, you should really plan to allocate half to two-thirds of what you can actually afford towards building it. No house comes in at or under budget, and sometimes quite a bit over. This results from a variety of factors, some of which may be due to your upgrading specifications, fixtures or materials as you go along. Sometimes it's an oversight, or increase in building materials costs, or even weather delays. You can reduce overages with diligence and planning but some will always sneak by.
Merveille Vivante House Plan
You can’t get an affordable house plan more luxurious than the Merveille Vivante Small House Plan.
In the Details
It’s easy to think about how many bedrooms you need or what you want in your kitchen but don’t forget other details too. For instance, there should be a bathroom on each floor if you are building a multi-story home. You'll also want to consider amenities like extra closet space for any guests you might periodically have staying with you.
Leave it to the Professionals
The best advice anyone can give you when building your home is to make as many preparations in advance as possible and let the professionals execute your dream. You should visit the site often to observe what your contractor and subcontractors are up to but making lots of changes during construction will hinder the timeline and ultimately cost you more money. So don’t be afraid to hold off on breaking ground until you are really happy with your design on paper.
Building your first home is a rewarding experience but while you are planning take some time to consider these points and make your home something that will stand the test of time. Remember, your home is likely to be the biggest investment you'll ever make, so planning and doing it right the first time is the way to assured satisfaction in the final result.
Ref - Lauren Busser The House Designers

Construction and Development Company ( Gauteng )

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